Study design: Delphi process with multiple iterative rounds using a nominal group technique.
Objective: The aim of this study was to use expert opinion to achieve consensus on various aspects of postoperative care following posterior spinal fusion (PSF) for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).
Summary of background data: Significant variability exists in postoperative care following PSF for AIS, despite a relatively healthy patient population and continuously improving operative techniques. Current practice appears based either on lesser quality studies or the perpetuation of long-standing protocols.
Methods: An expert panel composed of 26 pediatric spine surgeons was selected. Using the Delphi process and iterative rounds using a nominal group technique, participants in this panel were presented with a detailed literature review and asked to voice opinion collectively during three rounds of voting (one electronic and two face-to-face). Agreement >80% was considered consensus. Interventions without consensus were discussed and revised, if feasible.
Results: Consensus was reached to support 19 best practice guideline (BPG) measures for postoperative care addressing non-ICU admission, perioperative pain control, dietary management, physical therapy, postoperative radiographs, surgical bandage management, and indications for discharge.
Conclusion: We present a consensus-based BPG consisting of 19 recommendations for the postoperative management of patients following PSF for AIS. This can serve to reduce variability in practice in this area, help develop hospital specific protocols, and guide future research.
Level of evidence: 5.